Super, mega-blaster, cliché review spoiler alert and blatant factoid: five years is a long time in anything let alone music, the art form that has all the memory span of... 'Friendly Bacteria'. Perhaps Stockport based artist/producer Andy Carthy was wary of being taken for granted after half a decade away from his Mr. Scruff nom de plume, or perhaps he just felt that a change was as good as a rest. Either way, this - his fifth album - is an exercise in re-invention, all wrapped up in the good stuff familiar enough to keep his old posse rattling their chains in approval.
Carthy himself has acknowledged the new "mindset" (euch) and, consequently, style, summing it up pithily as rendering his music into something "Tougher, sparser, less samples, more bass. More vocals and collaborations and shorter tunes". These "more vocals" he speaks of come mostly via the soulful undertow of Mancunian Denis Jones; a man with a voice that is as content to remain in comfortable third gear as it is to pull things out of shape. Opener 'Stereo Breath' is one of fresh air: at times just naked, squelchy, feel-good strutting bass, it's a set of minimalist's new clothes which seem to suit the little hedonism of now. It's a head nodding rumble that also runs through the title track, whilst the bubbling tempo of 'He Don't?' is a wobbly hybrid of that and cheesy 80s funk.
Clean break made, it might've been easier to leave all traces of the past behind and shift the whole caboodle into something post dubstep, or the ambient fug of Jon Hopkins type stuff, but at the heart of Scruffism has been a strain of hip/jazz/hop/soul/house based on whatever could be laid a hand. Although less sample led than before, Carthy proves that there's still mileage in occasionally doing a 180: on 'We Are Coming' he re-injects the Rhodes based swing of previous outings, whilst the Latin rhythms and fuzzy trumpet of closer 'Feel Free' are part of an intricacy that belies any search for just the gut.
Continue reading: Mr. Scruff - Friendly Bacteria Album Review
Southport 50th was always going to be special. Every year Southport Weekender comes around again and with so many mind blowing gigs and sets we've seen throughout its history, it would be fair to assume Alex, Dave and the rest of the Southport Weekender family couldn't top it off again, but my gosh they did! It was an epic weekender.
The history of Southport Weekender has been inspirational to many lovers of soul and unity. That's why so many American artists, who have influenced dance music, always return back to get a slice of this unique melting pot. David Morales, Derrick Carter, Kerri Chandler, Kenny Dope, Jazzy Jeff, as well as legendary UK pioneers such as Carl Cox, David Rodigan, Trevor Nelson, Giles Peterson, Norman Jay and Mr Scruff were all in the house. Amazing live acts such as Faith Evans, Omar, Marcos Valle and Snarky Puppy added to the magic of what was a fantastic weekend.
Arriving on Friday, it was hard not to get swept away with the excitement but with the After Parties and so much to see, it was best not to burn out too soon. Brand New Heavies in The Connoisseur's Corner was a perfect way to start the weekender. They always know how to win the Southport Weekender crowd with their great display of funk musicianship immediately getting the dance floor moving. With Suncebeat and now two more events this year - one at Camelot and a special nostalgia gig back at the original Pontins in Southport - there were plenty more opportunities to experience the good vibrations of the festival. There's no doubt anyone who's been to Suncebeat knows how good that event is, and that I'm sure will be even more prolific this year due to the tragic death of Frankie Knuckles, who was going to headline Suncebeat this year.
Continue reading: Southport Weekender 50th - 9th - 11th May 2014, UK Live Review
As the pace of 2014 quickens, only one thing is on our mind - and that's the great party that occurs every year at Southport Weekender. The 50th celebration of this sensational event is just weeks away and we are about to experience what SPW does so well in what looks to be the best so far. The thought of heading down to Minehead again so soon is truly thrilling.
The world continues to spin, seemingly faster than ever these days, so we have to be sure to allow space for good times and that is always guaranteed at this epic weekender. No matter what inspires you from your time there, you always take home that much appreciated and very special slice of soul each year. There's nowhere else in the world quite like it and that's why we see so many cutting edge international artists eager to play at Southport Weekender and continuing to return with another tune to drop. Obviously the 50th is going to be particularly special with so many soul stars and real legends such as Chakka Khan performing, and a remarkable DJ line-up setting the scene for a fantastic summer.
Reflecting on the 40th anniversary event in Pontins 8 years ago, it's crazy to think how much has changed in the world of music. Alas, it's only right to mention those who are no longer with us and who have added so much to the Weekender - I refer, of course, to the shocking news of the passing of Godfather of House Music Frankie Knuckles. In this cycle of 10, the events of Southport Weekender went from 2 to 1. The circumstances have been challenging and dramatically changing for sure. Southport Weekender has now settled at Butlins and, despite the changes, the commitment and loyalty for this world-acclaimed event remains unabated and respected by all.
Continue reading: Southport Weekender 2014 - Preview